An afternoon of "free will"
Are we in control or not?
There was an active conversation today between a few members of the NY Complexity group that I am part of. The subject of discussion was “Free Will” based on a YouTube Video with Sam Harris. Well, one thing leads to another (as it happens every day for me - I tend to go with the flow) and I spent some time researching my viewpoint on “free will” to solidify what my position would be.
It was just yesterday I wrote a post on “What if?” where I pointed out that considerable environmental factors have determined who I am today. Though along the way I have made several major (but trivial) decisions within the constrained context of what I could make.
What did end up watching and reading?
The Sam Harris video on “Free Will” on YouTube.
The Wikipedia page on “Free Will” book by Sam Harris
The article ‘Free Will Problem’
Scientia Salon - the article Free Will, the Basics
Areo Magazine - Free Will, the Libet Experiments and the War on Terror
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Free Will
Cognitive Edge Blog - Dave Snowden “Twelvetide 18:06 free will”
Where do I stand today?
In finally summary, my current stand is that I am in the camp of “Soft indeterminism” (my own made-up term) + some illusion of choices which is a cross between or in the boundary of “Hard indeterminism” and “Liberatainism”
I shall give an example to explain my thinking: It is something like I want to buy a lottery ticket and I go into the shop to buy a ticket. I am not talking about the decision on why I wanted to buy the ticket, but around that I wanted to buy a ticket. All I get at that point is the ability to take the decision of which ticket I can buy from what is available. The availability of tickets is pre-determined (assuming I am picking paper tickets) but you do have an “ability” to decide which ticket you want to pick.
In every situation, we seem to be making some choices from what is being offered to us (constraints) - which we potentially brand as “free will”.
— Srikanth Ramanujam
Read the actual Sam Harris book which I found is available on Scribd at no extra cost to me. It is only one hour long and if I had only known earlier that it was that short I might have watched it first instead of the YouTube video.
Free Will - by Sam Harris
And two, read the counter-argument to Determinism. I have picked this book which also available to me on Scribd at no extra cost. I have already read some of Daniel Dennett’s work in “Kinds of Minds: Toward An Understanding Of Consciousness” so I have some idea on this philosophical outlook.
Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting - written by Daniel C. Dennett
Once I have read both, I shall revisit this topic again with a fresh post on “Free Will”
And BTW my time spent today on “Free Will” - was it free will or not?